‘Did you know Camp that anti-vaxxing and disinformation is a growing, lucrative business and turns over millions of dollars?’
‘How do they make money?’ Camp asked.
‘The vaccination opponents earn money in various ways: they have advertising revenue from YouTube videos, they sell vitamin supplements on their websites or sell themselves as event speakers. Over 30 million Facebook users follow pages with false vaccination information, the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) estimates. They also insert anti-vaccination messages into make-up or vitamin ads, thereby avoiding the algorithms that are set up by social media to trap misinformation.’
‘It’s a crazy world. How do you avoid fake news in an increasingly sophisticated and politically motivated cyber world? It also seems all lumped together: Conspiracies about anti-Semitism, vaccine skepticism and a general aversion to the so-called elites.’
‘Avoiding fake news is easy. Just don’t subscribe to social media and definitely not to sites like Telegram. I used to think religion is the curse of civilizations but today it’s social media and the same arguments fit both.’
‘There is an urgent need to introduce clearer rules for the social media giants, I’m convinced. After all, we know that disinformation campaigns, especially in the case of Covid-19, can be fatal. In Norway, conspiracy theorist Hans Kristian Gaarder was infected with the coronavirus in April. He had denied the existence of the virus and died of Covid-19.’
‘One universal truth emerges from all this,’ Camp said. ‘Conspiracy theorists eschew education, distrust science, deny history and facts and are cultists.’
We drank to that.
‘In the US, half the population is vaccinated and many states and cities are wide open: no more mask mandates, no crowd restrictions. Hockey and football games with tens of thousands of unmasked spectators in the stands. What do you think of that?’
‘I saw a photo of the Indy 500 crowd in Indianapolis. 135’000 and not a mask in sight. I guess everybody wins. The vaccinated feel safe and protected and the un-vaccinated believe it’s not necessary since there is no 4th wave and they don’t need the vaccine. They in fact profit from the partial immunity the vaccines provide. Let’s hope that’s enough.’
‘Here in Canada, we already have 70% of the population with one shot and everybody should be fully vaccinated by August. Then what? Lift all the restrictions. Free for all. Back to the future? We need a plan from the feds.’
‘It would be nice to have a vaccine passport for international travel and local restrictions lifted. It will be as much a political decision as a public health care one. But the virus will be with us, just like the flu, in many mutations, but hopefully severe illness and death is kept at bay.’
‘I read that even though restaurants are open again they cannot find staff and people are leery to go back to the carefree party mode of 2019,’ I said.
‘Who staffs all the low paying service jobs? Probably not the Canadians and not the ones who receive ongoing government benefits. Immigration also fell due to the pandemic. On top of that, the take out and food delivery services have increased since the pandemic outbreak. Will people go back to eat out when they can eat in with the same food?’ On top of that many have changed jobs or gone back to on-line schools and universities.
‘Let’s ask Vicky what she thinks,’ Camp said. She was just on her way with our beers.
‘I’d rather work than sit at home and going out for us means usually fast food and lately the craft breweries who are offering funky menus. My friends don’t go out to fancy restaurants, now less than ever.’
‘There you have it,’ Camp said.